What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee?

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The main symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee are:

  • pain (particularly when you’re moving your knee or at the end of the day – this usually gets better when you rest)
  • stiffness (especially after rest – this usually eases after a minute or so as you get moving)
  • crepitus, a creaking, crunching, grinding sensation when you move the joint
  • hard swellings (caused by osteophytes)
  • soft swellings (caused by extra fluid in the joint).

Other symptoms can include: 

  • your knee giving way because your muscles have become weak or the joint structure is less stable
  • your knee not moving as freely or as far as normal
  • your knees becoming bent and bowed
  • the muscles around your joint looking thin or wasted.

It’s unusual, but some people have pain in their knee that wakes them up at night. This generally only happens with severe osteoarthritis.

You’ll probably find that your pain will vary and that you have good days and bad days, sometimes depending on how active you’ve been but sometimes for no clear reason.

Some people find that changes in the weather (especially damp weather and low pressure) make their pain and stiffness worse. This may be because nerve fibres in the capsule of their knee are sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure.

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